“I want to kill myself.” “I’d rather jump in front of a car.” “I want to die.” Phrases similar to these are thrown around in casual conversations too often and it needs to stop.
A couple of weeks ago, a former student at Keene State College killed himself. Then, only five days later, a current KSC student killed himself as well. As members of the Keene community, it is shocking when something like this happens so close, but it also brings awareness that suicide is happening constantly and needs to be taken seriously.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention states 44,193 Americans die from suicide every year and for every suicide, 25 others attempt. On average, there are 121 suicides per day. With statistics like these, it’s easy to wonder how it’s gotten like this and if it will get worse.
Suicide is an issue that often times will get swept under the rug because it can be uncomfortable to discuss. This is mostly due to the stigma that lies on not only suicide, but mental health in general.
KSC Licensed Mental Health Counselor Brenda McEachern said, “One of the hardest parts is that there’s always been this stigma about suicide and depression and having it be connected to weakness.” It can be hard for those who do really need help to reach out because of this stigma. Even in the classroom itself, it’s hard to deal with mental issues. Telling a professor, “I can’t come in to class today because I’m feeling really down,” isn’t necessarily an excuse most will take for someone skipping their class. But depression, anxiety and any other mental health issues can be just as debilitating as having the flu or strep throat.
Having a mental health issue does not make someone weak. Instead of focusing on the struggles someone has, we need to focus on helping them, so that suicide doesn’t seem like that person’s only choice.
Suicide is an issue that is not meant to be taken lightly, especially with jokes that have no real intent or comments that belittle the issue itself. When people joke about wanting to kill themselves or lie about it just to get someone’s attention, it not only takes away from those who actually have killed themselves, but it also makes it difficult to tell whether someone is just having a bad day or if they actually need help.
The glorification of suicide has a heavy impact as well, especially for those who have attempted before or have suicidal thoughts. Glorification can happen through movies, TV shows, articles or even just conversations.
For example, TV shows such as the Netflix original “13 Reasons Why,” which focuses on the reasoning and the way a high school girl committed suicide, do not help those who are suicidal. Shows like these can be triggering. By painting suicide in a light that shows how many people will mourn you, it doesn’t get people thinking about the real issue at hand – that suicide is a permanent decision to a temporary problem.
KSC offers many different resources to help those who are feeling suicidal. For those who don’t feel comfortable talking with adults at the Center for Health and Wellness, programs such as Active Minds, an organization that works to bring awareness to various mental health issues and Student Support Network, a program that trains students to notice when their peers are in distress and to support them.
While there are many options out there for students in need of help, each one of us can do our own part by offering our support, speaking up when we feel that a student isn’t safe, and be more respectful towards mental health issues.